How to Prep Natural Hair for Winter Heat Styling, According to Top Hairstylists
Breakage? I don't know her.
Even though winter equinox technically isn't until Dec. 21, clearly Mother Nature has told some of us, "Lol hold my beer."
So if you have natural hair and live in the colder parts of the country, that means it's time for you to double down on haircare — especially if you plan on switching up your look occasionally with heat styling (just don't overdo it).
But if you're not sure where to start, or even how to tweak your regular routine for winter, let pros like Miko Branch, the co-founder of Miss Jessie's, along with Monae Everett, hairstylist and author of Get Out Of Your Own Way, help you out.
Everything you need to know about hair prep for winter heat styling, ahead.
How Does Heat Styling Affect the Hair During Winter?
Well first off, it's important to note that heat styling can cause damage regardless of season, says Branch. But cold winter air adds another element of trouble.
"During the winter, the hair shaft can allow cold and dry air to lift the cuticle of the hair strand and allow moisture to escape," says Everett. "Make sure to add extra heat protectant before blow drying or straightening your hair. I prefer to layer multiple items that offer heat protectant."
What Products Are Essential for Winter Heat Styling?
Both Branch and Everett agree that moisture is king when it comes to wintertime haircare. "Cold air also expands the hair shaft and makes it more prone to breakage," Everett adds. Plus the heat from your vents isn't doing your hair any favors.
To prevent dryness and subsequent damage, co-washing, deep conditioning, and adding in moisturizing products is key. Branch recommends using the Don't Want No Suds Conditioning Co-Wash, along with Baby Buttercreme — both from Miss Jessie's.
Everett likes Sebastian Professional's Twisted Elastic Treatment and Essations Naked Keratin Plus Reconstructive Masque for repair and deep conditioning.
And of course, you'll also need a heat protectant or two.
How Should I Prep My Hair?
Once your hair has been fully moisturized and a heat protectant has been applied, you should opt to first stretch the hair by doing a roller set, large braids, or twists and letting them air dry overnight. But if you're short on time, you can sit underneath a bonnet dryer.
In the morning, heat up your hot tools and try to use only one to two passes on each section. If you want to add some texture and body to the look, Branch recommends doing a two-strand twist on dry hair, then taking it out the next morning. You can also use flexi-rods to create loose waves and curls.
If you choose to slick down your edges, Branch suggests using Miss Jessie's Hold Me Down, which works across all textures.
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How Do I Maintain the Style Without Adding Extra Heat?
Luckily, during the wintertime, there's less moisture in the air, so you won't have to worry as much about humidity. However, you will have to be mindful of your hair when you go to bed.
“To maintain the style while sleeping, [create] two low ponytails to keep roots in place," says Branch. "Twisting the ends around the elastic can help to keep hair neat through the night. Another option is to sleep with a doobie wrap, a scarf, or satin bonnet to preserve style and shape."
When creating your doobie wrap, Everett suggests using a large paddle brush to brush your hair around your head in a circular motion, then grabbing a few duck bill clips to keep the hair in place. Afterwards, wrap the hair with your scarf or bonnet, as Branch suggests.
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